Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Classification of Uighur Terrorist Group Came From US/China Deal

Attorneys for a group of Chinese Muslims held for nearly five years in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filed suit yesterday, asking that the men be released immediately and alleging that they have been held as part of a political deal between the United States and China.

Citing new laws that allow detainees to challenge their status as "enemy combatants," the lawyers argue that their seven clients -- ethnic Uighurs (pronounced wee-gurs) -- have never taken up arms against the United States or its allies. They contend that the men have been labeled wrongfully as terrorist suspects because they oppose the Communist Chinese government.

In a 58-page filing at the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the lawyers argue that the Uighurs have been held since early 2002 as a way to win Chinese acquiescence for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The lawyers -- Sabin Willett and Susan Baker Manning -- allege in the court documents that their clients' detention was one of several demands the Chinese government solicited in mid-2002 as the United States was seeking global support for toppling Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials labeled the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) -- a group that includes Uighur separatists who want their own nation in western China -- a terrorist organization in August 2002 after diplomatic discussions with China about Iraq, the lawyers allege. ...

Then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage met with Chinese officials in Beijing in late August 2002 and discussed the Iraq situation with them. ...

"They had been after us to put ETIM on the list," Armitage said in a recent interview. He said the decision did not have anything to do with winning China's tacit approval on the Iraq invasion. "But at the time, we didn't know when we were going to invade Iraq. It was done in response to information gathered by the intelligence group."

Horsehockey, Mr. Armitage.

The invasion of Iraq was planned earlier than that. Anyone remember the Downing Street Memo?

Not to mention the fact that the administration was discussing plans to invade Iraq as early as Bush's first NSC meeting (January 2001).

As witnessed by then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.


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